The West Islip boys soccer team comes to play wearing warmup jerseys emblazoned with the words "Shock The World" across the back.
While shocking the world might be aiming a little high, the Lions certainly did shock host Smithtown West on Tuesday. The Bulls had just evened the score with 1:59 left in regulation. But this game never made it to overtime.
Aidan Lodie was in front of the Smithtown West goal, received a crossing pass from Joseph Blackton from the right wing and managed to head it past Bulls goalkeeper Brenden Madden with 12.7 seconds left to give West Islip a 3-2 Suffolk League III victory and keep the Lions (5-0-1) unbeaten.
"What you saw there was the fight in us," Lodie said. "We always finish."
"Scoring chances like that, right at the end, are rare," Blackton said. "I can’t say [Smithtown West] slept because they’d just scored. They got another shot before we scored. All I know is that when I brought it down, Aidan was in the box and that was going to be our best shot."
That West Islip is playing well and looking dangerous should be no surprise. The Lions squeezed into the postseason in the coronavirus-transplanted spring season and then staged a couple upsets to reach the county semifinals. They return a bunch of talent including goalkeeper Lucas Iacono (nine saves) and blossoming scorer Matt Kessler.
Nevertheless, the Bulls seemed the dominant team for most of the game. Smithtown West controlled the midfield and used its speed to make twice as many forays toward the goal as the Lions. West Islip simply made the most of its chances.
"They were the better team today, no question," West Islip coach Eddie Pieron said. "We’re really good on the counter attack though and if we can get some sort of misstep or opening in the midfield, we can get it to the goal fast. That’s what happened on that play."
"I really can’t tell if there was a miscommunication on our back line or what right there," Bulls coach A.J. Gercke said. "We gave up more goals today than in the last five combined and that’s very disappointing. But we also had a lot of opportunities we didn’t convert. We could have given up the three goals and still won."
Kessler was streaking down the right side when he got a long cross-field pass from Vincent Grieco to put West Islip up 1-0 with 30:30 to play. The Bulls answered about 12 minutes later when Alex Tylar scored on a header off Jake Trama’s throw in.
The Lions went up with 6:10 play on a free kick. Derek Gildard and Lodie lined up like either could take the kick; Gildard faked it and Lodie bent a shot over the line of Bulls and into the upper left corner. Trama tied it at 2 on a breakaway when Iacono slid but failed to knock it away.
"This is a game that will serve us well," Pieron said. "Games like this are coming down the road and in the playoffs. This will help us when they come."